Staying on target with any goals is tough – but of course, my focus is on health and fitness….. and one of the biggest killers for your goals, if you are in a position of H.A.L.T.S.
H.A.L.T.S. is hungry, angry, lonely, tired and stressed.
Hungry – you have probably heard the saying, “Never go grocery shopping while hungry.” That one is pretty obvious and I think we have all done it – you come home with ice cream or chips or chocolate or something else not on your plan. Same goes for heading to a restaurant. If you are super hungry you will make different decisions, perhaps not supportive ones. You need to have a plan in place to overcome this and obviously, eating well all the time so you avoid it is best. You are also less mentally sharp when hungry, leading to further bad decision making.
Angry (or emotional in general) will make you change your decisions in a non-supportive way. If you are having a bad day and you are angry (or sad or any ‘negative’ emotion) you are very likely to skip your workout or eat junk food. There is a rule – when emotions are high, intelligence is low. When we are really upset, we just are not thinking straight – this is where ‘time out’ comes from and it’s actually a good idea for adults too.
Lonely (and no, this has nothing to do with marital status) is a problem sometimes with choices. I know that when my wife an son are out of town the chance that I have pizza and ice cream go up because I am alone and revert to my bachelor tendencies. Maybe that isn’t such a bad thing but if you were to ask yourself, “Would I make this choice if I wasn’t alone?” And the answer is ‘no’, then perhaps you need to stop and think or phone a friend for some support.
Tired, oh boy, this one hits me a lot. When I am tired I make poor choices. I eat food that is not helping, I skip a workout, I cave into some basic emotions that have nothing to do with my goals. A nap could be a great idea and as much as we could debate the healthy of it, for an adult, a coffee can help get you back on track.
Stressed. Stress not only causes us to store fat in the worst places from cortisol levels, it also contributes to lousy decision making. Instead of having a solid, rational thought, we make a decision based on a non-supportive state of being. It is a clinical fact that people under stress have a harder time controlling urges (like eating a half dozen donuts), and the person can only think of the reward, not the consequence.
Avoiding the consequences of H.A.L.T.S. for fitness and for life is pretty simple – make sure you eat on a structured, thought out plan so that good food is readily available and handy. If you are angry or emotional, give yourself a five minute time out to breathe and let the feeling pass. You might need to write out the reasons why you are angry so that you can let it go and deal with it later. For loneliness, have a support system through social media or call a friend. Join a class like bootcamp where people expect you to be there and will support you. Make sure you get seven and a half hours sleep every night and grab a nap if you can to avoid being tired. If that isn’t possible yet then a coffee or tea might be your next step as an adult (kids, no stimulants until you are 18!) Exercise will also boost energy so that might just be the ticket! As for stress, do your best to breathe, ask for help, delegate, or give yourself some space. Find the good in the thing that is making you stressed and try to re-frame it. Of course, exercise helps relieve stress better than pretty much anything, so go for a good workout to deal with stress.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.